Archive for May, 2008

They never learn.

May 28th, 2008
Posted in Vegemite, Tim Tams and marsupials

Remember a year or so ago when Telstra relaunched as “The Search Engine for Australians”? No? Not many people do, and not many people actually use the thing. It’s fairly bad. But when it was introduced, they trotted out some project manager who said something totally bizarre like “In a year we will be bigger than Google in Australia.”

I wish I would have kept that story, because they’re doing it again. Not against Google, mind you, but against eBay. They’re repurposing the TradingPost website into some kind of auction site, undercutting eBay’s prices.

“We’re very confident that Australians know us, they trust us, (and because) we have a comprehensive service that has more features, more choice, more flexibility than elsewhere, we think we’re on a match winner here.” (Bruce Akhurst, chief executive of Sensis)

There was no way they would have succeeded against Google, and there’s very little chance they will succeed against eBay. eBay isn’t great – in fact it’s pretty bad – but Sensis’s offering is just too little, too late. Nice try. Bzzzt. Next player please.


May 26th, 2008
Posted in About music, Culture & Trash

I’m a fan of the Eurovision Song Contest. There, I said it. I like Eurovision, for all its tacky, over-the-top flag-waving bad music – it’s really pretty good entertainment. Sure, there are some boring songs, but for all those, there are some absolutely fantastically bad ones, ones that are obviously taking the piss and ones that you’re really not quite sure what to make of them. Then, of course, there’s the turkey, and the less said of that, the better.

Usually, someone that’s a bit deserving wins. Two years ago, it was Lordi from Finland. They rocked, rocked hard, and most importantly, rocked interestingly and entertainingly. But what is this Russian winning song ? It’s garbage. It’s certainly not very good, but unfortunately, it’s not exactly very bad either, and that’s really what I have the biggest problem with. If I want to hear boring music, I’ll turn on a commercial radio station. This is Eurovison, for Wogan’s sake! The epitome of tacky! I watch it to be entertained. I think I got up to clean the dinner dishes during the Russian performance. Snoozefest!

My next next computer

May 12th, 2008
Posted in Geek

My next computer will be whatever pro-level laptop Apple releases next. That’s kind of a given. I don’t like desktop computers because I can’t throw one in my bag, use it on the tram, and have everything at my fingertips wherever I happen to be. I’m a laptop guy. There are rumours about case revisions, new CPUs from Intel, yadda yadda. They’ll release a new MacBook Pro, and that will be my new MacBook Pro. Fine. After that though, things get a little murky. What will my next next computer be? That’s more difficult to determine. I’m not sure if it will even be a computer as we know it.

Remember mainframes? These massive, mostly infallible computing behemoths that would never ever fail. But when they did, everyone went home, because there was no way to do any work without them. That thing on your desk, while it shares basic components with computers of today, was little more than a screen and keyboard. All the heavy lifting was done downstairs in the massive fluorescently-lit, Antarcticly-cooled room, populated by people in lab coats, who mutter to themselves in acronyms. Sound familiar? Centralised computing is coming back. We call it a web application, we call it software as a service, we call it Facebook, we call it, we call it Windows Live, we call it the iTunes Store.

Computers are getting bigger

At the biggest end of the big-computer scale, you’ve got people like Google and, um, well, Google. They’ve got one of the biggest computers in the world, and anyone can use it. The pedants amongst us will point out that it’s actually quite a number of little computers, but that doesn’t really matter. Functionally, it’s one big computer. And we can do whatever we want with it. Amazon has something similar, and has been around longer than Google’s offering. Sun’s got something like that, and VMWare, Parallels and dozens of others either offer products allowing a regular person to use a slice of their computers to pretend its one of theirs.

In addition to being able to run your own stuff up in the Internet cloud, there are now dozens of online application vendors. People selling (or giving away) Internet-based word processors, spreadsheets, CRMs, painting programs, photo management applications, and lots more. Who needs desktop versions of this stuff? Admittedly, the online versions do leave something to be desired, but there is only one way to go with these things, and that’s up. We’re at the beginning of a bit of a fight for advanced net-based languages. There’s Microsoft’s .NET and Silverlight, Adobe’s Flash and recently-announced Air (Flash developers, see that writing on the wall? It’s addressed to you). Sun is still trying to make Java work (give up now), and Apple seems to have completely forgotten about QuickTime, which coulda been a contender. There’s even a camp of people who think some kind of advanced HTML and JavaScript is the way to go. Whichever technology wins (and I’ll write about that later), suffice it to say that within a few years, pretty much everything you’ll need to do will be available online in some way shape or form. The trick here is integrating all these online applications as well as desktop applications are. That’s the really tricky bit, and I don’t see anyone looking at that right now. I’m sure it will happen though.

Computers are getting smaller

While computers are getting bigger, they’re also getting smaller. And I’m not talking about MacBook Airs or EEE PCs, I’m talking about actual computing power. Moore’s Law. Gruber did a good comparison of the power of an iPhone vs the power of a variety of older Macs. Turns out the the iPhone is very generally comparable to the original Blue & White PowerMac G3 (coincidentally, the last desktop computer I used as a primary computer). All the power of a PowerMac G3 in your pocket. Newer phones from Nokia or Sony Ericsson are similarly powerful. And that’s sitting in your pocket!

Simultaneously, wireless Internet connection speeds are getting faster. Much faster. The mobile phone I have right now can transfer at a theoretical 56k/sec. Very slow. I have a wireless Internet card that I’ve seen transferring 1024k/sec in real world situations – on a moving train! My next phone will have that kind of speed built-in. This stuff is only going to get faster.

Put it all together

Network-enabled applications, online data storage, big computers far away, shrinking personal computers, and very fast mobile Internet access. My next next computer might not be a computer at all, but a subscription to a virtual computer that I can access with a pocket computer that we used to call a phone. In order to have the life that I currently store in my laptop with me, I won’t have to carry my big laptop anymore, just a small pocket computer. High resolution versions of my photos, music, movies, writing, email – everything would live up there. I’d carry around the access to it in my pocket.


Integration. Someone’s got to figure out a way for all these independent online applications to work together and share data, or else nothing will get off the ground.

Security and privacy. How do I make sure no one goes snooping in my virtual computer? If it’s a physical thing, I can keep an eye on it. Virtually, well, who’s to be sure?

What now?

Well, we’ve got to start building some of this stuff. Lots of the building blocks have been created, they just have to be put together in a consumer-accessible way. Apple’s slowly heading in this direction, I think, using a slightly different method of simply plastering MacOS in as many places as they can, and working out the details later. Their .Mac service is a dark horse, I think, in making cloud computing totally effortless for Mac users. We’ll have to wait and see. Certainly exciting times ahead.

Exclusive chance to own a piece of my computing history

May 11th, 2008
Posted in Cult of Steve

Yes, gentle reader, you have the change to own a piece of my very own computing history! The computer I used just before the one I’m using now is up for sale on eBay. It’s computer number 12 or 13 in the big list of computers I’ve owned – I tried to make an actual list just now, but there are some murky bits where I had two or three computers and can’t remember which ones came and went where and when and why… I’ve only got one now, and I’ve only had one for about six years now, when I got rid of my last desktop computer. I’ve got some favourites though (ahh.. Amiga 2000HD, Mac SE/30, PowerBook 2400…), but that’s another far geekier post for another far geekier time.

Apple’s PowerBook G4 series was a very good line of computers, starting with the very first one, the Titanium G4, when the introduced the (still current) Pro laptop design language (my girlfriend-at-the-time Hilary had one, and boy was I jealous!). Feature for feature, those things really packed a whallop. Internal modems! Don’t see those much anymore. Reminds me of when the iMacs came out and they didn’t have floppy drives. Everyone freaked out, then realised that no one had really used a floppy disk for years. I don’t think I even owned any at that time. I know for a fact that I’ve never used the modem in my PowerBook G4, and I’ve never missed it in this MacBook Pro. I couldn’t live without my mobile broadband card though.

Twitter Updates for 2008-05-09

May 9th, 2008
Posted in Uncategorized

  • Throwing huge whacks of data around. #

  • Just found out I’m leading a training session in an hour. By myself. #

  • Debating how to cover for a possibly negligent teenager. #

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Twitter Updates for 2008-05-08

May 8th, 2008
Posted in Uncategorized

  • Back on my own computer now. It’s like being at home. #

  • Ubuntu wouldn’t work well on a P3, so they installed XP, which worked fine. What’s wrong here? #

  • Guess what? Chicken butt! #

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Twitter Updates for 2008-05-07

May 7th, 2008
Posted in Uncategorized


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Twitter Updates for 2008-05-06

May 6th, 2008
Posted in Uncategorized

  • Vodafone to sell iPhone in 10 countries worldwide: #

  • A day started off with Pink Martini is going to be a good day, I hope. #

  • @pgib Bondi Beach pales by comparison to Coogee Beach, just down the coast a bit. "Coogee Blue" just doesn’t sound as nice though. #

  • @eddanger I nearly bought Apple stock at $13, a few months before Steve came back, when there were rumours they would sell to Sun. #

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May 6th, 2008
Posted in Cult of Steve, Geek, Vegemite, Tim Tams and marsupials

Huh? What? Hello? Vodafone? iPhone! Australia? Yes! 3G? Dunno. What? Where did this story come from? What about all the SingTel/Optus rumours? The dark horse, the Vodahorse comes out from, well, the darkness, and announces that they’re some kind of wild worldwide partner. It won’t be for the existing iPhone, because Voda’s networks in most of those ten countries doesn’t support EVDO. It’s going to have to be a 3G unit, at least in Australia. When? Dunno. No one’s saying. But damn right I signed up. I’m with Voda already, and I was planning to use my unlocked 3G iPhone, bought from wherever, on their network anyway.

So what does this mean for an unlocked 3G iPhone? Will it happen, or will Apple continue with their not-so-successful program of locking the phone to a certain network? I’m hoping they’ll do what every other mobile company does, and that is provide locking as an option to the network reseller, but make unlocking a relatively painless process that won’t be destroyed whenever a software upgrade comes down the spout.

The scissors of attribution

May 6th, 2008
Posted in Geek

My old buddy David has a new thing called It’s essentially a content tracking system, so that it’s easy for a content creator to see where else their content is being referenced. From the site description:

With SNI.PS, you can capture content from almost any Website on the Net and place it on your own blog. The tool tracks the attribution of any “snipped content”, so that content owners can see where and how their content is being reused elsewhere on the Web.

It’s a handy idea that can potentially be expanded into a kind of web-wide lazy CMS, as it puts a layer of management on top of content that’s generally freely shared around. Lots of interesting potential there. I’m looking forward to using it, as soon as I can figure out the WordPress plugin…